I have a vision. A BIG vision!

The widening skills gap is a world wide problem that must be addressed by governments, corporates, businesses and individuals like me. We can only echo the testimony of Mike Rowe (Creator, Executive Producer and Host, Dirty Jobs) before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. YouTube video here

A few months before Mike Rowe's testimony the idea of a Skill School was discussed between me and my very learned neighbour. We came to the conclusion that it would be possible to put together a very good team of people to do basic skills training in many fields and not just the trade sector. Mike Rowe's testimony only confirmed to me that we should see what can be done about the skill shortage in South Africa.

This is where the vision comes in. A Sponsored Skill School. A venue to train people the basic skills i.e. Safety in the workplace and how to use hand and power tools. We can teach the basics of plumbing and carpentry, metal work and welding. Who knows, it does not have to stop there. Look around you, there are thousands of different ways people can make a living for themselves, if they just knew how.

The Sponsored part of the Skill School is very important. Firstly people who are currently unemployed should be targeted and they will not be able to pay for any training. Therefore they would have to receive some subsidised income while in training.

The idea is not to train people to the level of qualified tradesmen but rather give them comprehensive basic training in the various aspects in order to be more marketable in the work place. I know what it means to have confidence in what I'm doing. The first time I had to work with an angle grinder I was very unsure of what expect. That angle grinder looked very dangerous and my knuckles were white from gripping it with all my might. My heart was pumping faster when I got closer to the concrete I wanted to cut. I quickly learned that holding the angle grinder so tightly is not necessary and it cuts much better with just a firm hold.

How to make this vision come to pass.

STAFF:

One person cannot do it. There are many people around who can make up an excelent team. Whether trainers will be employed full time or on contract will depend on the subject. There will obviously be a team of full time qualified administration staff.

VENUE / TRAINING FACILITY:

Currently no venue exist that I know off. I would like to have a venue close to where the targeted people stay to eliminate transport problems. Maybe some ground must be bought and a training facility designed and build. Such a facility would need class rooms and workshops fully equiped with all kinds of tools. To start off I would like to set up a model Skill School close to Zandspruit in the Honeydew area.

WHO WILL RECEIVE TRAINING:

The target group will be those individuals who has never had the privilege that I had to receive basic skills training from school days. People who are currently not employed but willing to learn in order to better themselves and find jobs. I am sure we will find individuals who excel and would even want to start their own businesses and employ others.

I guess the age group will range from around 18 to 40 years old but it will be less important. Heads of families will need training the most in order to take care of their families. There are many children burdened with that responsibility and those will be the perfect candidates.

I stay on the Westrand and there are thousands of candidates living around here. One Skill School will never be enough.

FINANCING SKILL SCHOOL:

As you can imagine a huge amount of finance will be needed to get this vision off the ground. Property must be bought and a training facility designed and build. The tools and other equipment must be bought. The staff and trainers must receive salaries. The subsidised income for all trainees must be paid and also the monthly water and electricity account. You get the picture.

Skill School could be run as a Section 21 non-profit organisation and it is your sponsorship that will make it happen. I do not know what finance can come from the SA Government but that venue will be explored. Your knowledge of how to approach the correct department will be extremely helpful.

THE FUTURE:

I can see that in the future there might be a need for a Skill College. A training facility that can cater for employers to sent their employees for further training in various fields including recognised trade qualifications. A Skill College will not offer sponsored training but the employer will be responsible for the cost.